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How To Cook a WOOF: 3 recipes for sustaining the self

April 14, 2020


Organic Media

Serves 2 or more


This is an old recipe. But it still works. I learned how to cope with “news fatigue” from friends when I lived in New Orleans in 2007. Two years after Hurricane Katrina wrecked the city, people still did not have basic utilities and services. Scammers took advantage of the precarious nature of life there by pushing misinformation for profit. It was hard to know who or what to believe. New Orleanians adapted by essentially using friends and family as “spam filters.” News that was genuinely valuable traveled by word-of-mouth. Talking it out was how information was vetted. Bullshit and noise were left behind on phones and computers.



Prep: 10-15 minutes (optional)

Cook: All day




Internet access and a computer or tablet



Start by recalling what Karl Kraus wrote: “Stupidity gets up early; that is why events are accustomed to happening in the morning.” Read your preferred news outlets in the morning for no more than 15 minutes. Close the browser window or app for the rest of the day. Assume nothing stupid that is worthy of real attention will happen until the next morning. 



Go about your day. Do not check the news. Talk to friends and family. Inform them that they should call if they come across news and information that is genuinely beneficial to you. Discuss with them what is genuinely beneficial to you in an open and transparent manner. Share news you read in the morning (if you did) that you consider beneficial to them. You can substitute calling with social media messages, texting or emailing. But the epistemic value of the information will drop. This has to do with the grain of the voice playing an essential role in how epistemic value is judged.


Continue going about your day. Rely only on your “circle of concern” (i.e. friends and family) for news. If you feel the quality or amount of news does not fit what you want or need, consider expanding or shrinking your circle of concern. Adjust until the right mix of interaction, enjoyment, and actionable understanding is found for your taste.

Paul Chan, information

Unemployment Benefits for Freelancers, New York Style

Serves 1


Freelancers, independent contractors, and gig workers in New York are eligible to apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) as part of the 2 trillion dollar Federal CARES act. But you must apply for regular Unemployment Insurance (UI) first—be turned down—to then be eligible for PUA. PUA offers a weekly wage of up to $504 for a maximum of 39 weeks, along with $600 on top of that weekly wage. An artist or performer could potentially receive a maximum of $1104 a week for 39 weeks under the CARES act if they have lost work. People who have the ability to telework with pay or are receiving paid sick leave or other leave benefits are ineligible. 


This recipe is not easy. It takes time. You will feel frustrated and angry at the byzantine nature of the process. You may even be so demoralized that you want to give up. Don’t give up. That money is earmarked for you, if you have the ingredients. Claim it. Don’t wait.



Prep: 5-10 minutes

Cook: 1–12 days




Internet access and a computer

New York State Government ID 

New York State Driver’s License or Non-Driver Photo Identification Card number

Social Security Number

Mailing address

Guide to apply if you are self-employed in NY



Bank routing and account number



Get a ID. It’s free, and all you need is a working email address. Get the ID here. This gives you access to the NY department of labor online form that allows to you begin applying for unemployment. Have your New York State driver’s license, mailing address, Social Security Number, and bank routing and account number (if you have one) ready for the next steps.



Go to the new (as of April 10th) Department of Labor unemployment claims portal by clicking here. Begin filling out the form. The webpage may not load, or display the message, “your session has timed out.” The system is overwhelmed. Keep trying. Log back in and start the process again. 


In the meantime, read the Guide to apply if you are self-employed in NY. Familiarize yourself with what to answer on the application. It may take 30 minutes or a couple hours to finish the online application. Once you fill it out and your form is submitted, take a deep breath and enjoy the moment. 


But take just a moment, because it’s not over. You may be asked to speak to the Department of Labor office to complete the process. As of April 10th, a “call-back” feature has begun, where a claims specialist is supposed to call you within 72 hours of you filing online, to complete your claim. Again, the purpose of applying is to be in the system. You will be denied UI. But once you are denied, you will then be eligible for PUA. 


If you do not receive a call within 72 hours, the claims number is: 1 (888) 209-8124. Phone lines are open Monday through Friday from 8am to 7:30pm, Saturday and Sunday from 7:30am to 8pm. The phone line will most likely be busy. If you get through, you may hear a message saying they are “experiencing high call volumes at this time,” and then the call hangs up on you. Like the website, the phone lines are overwhelmed. Keep calling. Try this redial trick if you have an iPhone. It may take a few days. Don’t stop. Reach someone.


Once you talk to a Labor Department representative, you will then be able to finish the application, and be denied UI. You will then be eligible for PUA. Wait for further instructions from the Labor Department. If you are approved, remember you must log onto your account every week to claim your weekly benefits. The money is distributed either by direct deposit (if you provided your bank info) or by mail. 


Metaphysical Experience

Serves 1


How to make the best of the worst of times? Try blending thoughts with feelings to renew the capacity for experience to be more than what we want to escape from. 



Prep: 5-10 minutes

Cook: 30 minutes



A place you feel absolutely safe. 

A glass of water



Find or make a place where you feel absolutely safe. Adjust qualities like the light level, air circulation, and temperature to suit your taste, if possible. Remove or silence all electronic devices. Dim all screens in view. Set glass of water in place. 



Take a seat in your place. Begin by noticing qualities or aspects around you that did not register before. Pay attention to how these newly discovered aspects belong to your place as much as you do. Then, acknowledge that you belong to this empirical world, in your mind, or out loud. This means accepting that what exists—like your place—is not inferior to some other world or existence beyond this one. Take a moment.


Close your eyes. Consider the possibility that concepts in general, especially those you most fear and/or cherish, are not superior to this empirical world, but belong in it. Imagine how you might rethink those concepts from a historical standpoint. Start by recalling who or where you learned them from. If you don’t know, draft a simple plan in your mind about how to find out. Open your eyes.


Take a drink of water. Let your mind ease into the following train of thought: your sensory, emotional, and intellectual capacities are still evolving. Speculative thinking is a crucial aspect of your evolving nature. Making room for speculative thoughts inspires feelings that suggests the world as it stands is not all there is.  


Consider silently or out loud how such feelings may enable you to be more discerning and sensitive to all that participates in what the world is, without the influence of anything that is not already here. Notice how the world deepens and enlarges with these feelings in mind. Let this experience develop wherever it may go. Come back to it later.

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